New South Wales' new minimum passing distance gets a mixed reaction on social media

The Australian state of New South Wales has introduced a new law stipulating a minimum passing distance for drivers to leave cyclists to help keep riders safe, but the reaction on social media has unfortunately been predictably negative.

News.co.au reports that drivers in the state will now be legally required to pass at least a metre away from cyclists when travelling at less than 60kmh (37mph) with an extra half a metre required when travelling at higher speeds.

Drivers who fail to give enough space to cyclists will face a fine of $330AUD (£180), with the law being introduced after a successful two-year trial which an independent review found had led to a 15 per cent reduction in crashes between bikes and cars.

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However despite the fact that 158 cyclists have been killed in collisions with cars in the state since 2000 and the reduction in accidents which the “close pass” ban should produce, the reaction to the news on social media has been sadly predictably negative.

“So if a group of cyclists are riding 2 wide doing 20 in a 60 zone and it’s an unbroken center line do I just sit behind the doing 20?” wrote one commenter to News.co.au‘s story on Facebook, not considering that the answer was probably “yes”.

“Maybe when cyclists actually ride single file instead of holding up traffic to a standstill, then the one metre rule makes sense,” wrote another, despite the fact that cyclists in New South Wales are allowed to ride two abreast.

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However there were some people who put their heads above the parapit to defend the new rules, with one writing: “I don’t ride a bike but I’m really mindful of them and try to give them room. It would be unthinkable to accidentally clip someone and possibly deprive a family of a loved one. Be careful out there.”

Despite the mixed reaction on social media, Transport for New South Wales’ Centre for Road Safety has found that 81 per cent of cyclists and 69 per cent of drivers are in favour of the new rule, with compliance being high during the initial two-year trial.